Guy Debord

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"Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation."

Guy Debord (1931–1994) was an unorthodox French Marxist who was most famous for publishing his theses, after the style of Martin Luther, on what he called "The Society of the Spectacle." Much less read today than it was during his own time amongst his leftist pals, the treatise borrows from Marxist theory and psychoanalysis to analyze the production of symbols in capitalism.[1][2]

This was during the 1960s, when Andy Warhol and his ilk were contributing to an increased general awareness of the increasing intensity and density of advertisements in the public sphere. Debord interpreted this increase of representation in dialectical terms, borrowing the Marxian idea of commodity fetishism and transforming it into the idea of representation fetishism, where by people are rendered incapable of meaningfully relating to each other except by representations received from the capitalist system.

Debord notes in his short autobiography that he was an interminable alcoholic, so that may tarnish his "spectacle", so to speak. He was also an unabashed criminal of the thieving type and most of his acquaintances either died violent deaths or wound up in prison, according to him. He was a member of Socialisme ou Barbarie.Wikipedia a French libertarian socialist party, and founded the Letterist InternationalWikipedia which later became the Situationist International.

He also inspired Jean Baudrillard, but we all make mistakes.[3] Instead of spurring on the revolution, he committed suicide in 1994.

See also[edit]


  1. See the Wikipedia article on Guy Debord.
  2. Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle, Will Self, The Guardian, 14 Nov 2013
  3. Spectacle, Simulation and Spectre: Debord, Baudrillard and the ghost of Marx, Andrew Hussey, Parallax, 7:3 (2001), through T&F online